Blackwelder column: Many gardeners waiting out a cold spring

  • Posted: Friday, March 29, 2013 12:34 a.m.
A forsythia in full bloom is a sign of spring. The plant can vary in color, from white to yellow. Darrell Blackwelder/For the Salisbury Post
A forsythia in full bloom is a sign of spring. The plant can vary in color, from white to yellow. Darrell Blackwelder/For the Salisbury Post

SALISBURY — Last year at this time, the weather was unusually warm and there was a freak hail storm. How strange our weather can be from year to year. Retail garden and farm outlets are very busy with customers anticipating the chance to plant vegetable transplants and maintain their landscapes. Many have questions about their gardening chores. Below are a few inquiries that may relate to your situation.

Q: I have a plum tree that has large black growths all over the tree. What is the problem and what is the control?

A: The problem is black knot of cherry and plum. It is a common problem for these species in our area. Prune out all the diseased portions on the tree. Using a fungicidal spray will help. Resistant varieties are another option. Go to for more complete information.

Q: I have noticed forsythia blooming throughout Rowan County. They look really good this year. Are there different types of forsythia?

A: Yes, there are different shades of yellow and even a white forsythia variety. There is also a variegated-leafed cultivar.

Q: Now that my daffodils have bloomed, what should I do?

A: Remove the spent flower heads and do not cut or disturb the foliage. The foliage is necessary to help the bulb absorb nutrients to prepare for next season’s bloom. The plants will turn yellow and unsightly, but keep them until they eventually turn from yellow to brown.

Q: I have some Bradford pear trees and the limbs are hanging low, preventing me from mowing under them. Can I prune them while they are blooming?

A: Yes, judicious pruning of trees at this point will not damage them. Bradford pears are very forgiving trees.

Q: I want to use horse manure for my garden. How should it be used?

A: Horse manure and other animal manures need to be well composted to prevent potential problems with salmonella. Aged manures should be worked into the soil before planting. Manures add organic matter and help workability of the soil. Avoid using fresh manure, especially as vegetable crops near maturity. Also, be aware that un-composted manures contain a plethora of weed seeds. If you use manure, make sure it’s well composted or you’ll add a new crop of weeds to your garden.

Darrell Blackwelder is the county extension director with horticulture responsibilities with the N.C. Cooperative Extension Service in Rowan County. Learn more about Cooperative Extension events and activities by calling 704-216-8970, Facebook or online at

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